I can’t believe that since October we’ve seen shops full of tinsel, baubles, and everything associated with Christmas. For weeks, people have been rushing to finish their holiday shopping. I heard and saw adverts streaming on TV reminding us of all the delicious food we simply must have in preparation for this beautiful time of year.
Whether it’s true or not, it appears that everyone is happy and surrounded by loved ones, cheerfully embracing this enchanted season.
Who wouldn’t be thrilled for Christmas?
However, how wonderful is it when you have lost someone close to you and your heart honestly feels like it’s in a thousand pieces?
It’s Christmas, that time of year when we are reminded of the loved ones we have lost over the years or even just these past twelve months. The memories come flooding back to you as a cruel reminder that they are no longer with you to share these good times. You don’t even feel like celebrating and have no idea how you’re going to make it through.
Does any of this sound familiar?
How can you ever come to terms with this grief and loneliness often amplified by social gatherings?
In my personal experience of loss, I have tried most things and I’d like to share some of these thoughts with you as we approach the Christmas season.
How are you holding up?
These 12 tips can help you get through grief and loneliness at Christmas:
- Be the one to decide. If it doesn’t feel right, then don’t do it, and don’t be persuaded by others because they think it will be good for you. Don’t worry about those around you who might judge.
- Always be kind to yourself, and allow yourself to grieve. You have been through one of the worst things imaginable. Grieve how you feel comfortable, not how others think you should feel.
- When you feel panicky about a situation, practice breathing slowly, in and out. Sounds silly I know, but it really works! Breathing can help you relax and remain focused.
- Turn to that one friend. Reaching out to people is always a challenge when you’re grieving. But, if there is something happening that you can’t face alone, choose that one friend who totally ‘gets’ you and can help you through it.
- Don’t fully commit to social events. You may accept the invite with the understanding that you will go but may have a wobble beforehand. So, if you do need to pull out at the last minute, you can. It’s okay to say no to people, especially if you are already overwhelmed.
- Find your own comfort blanket without feeling guilty about it. I have been known to eat all the chocolate tree decorations on my own in one sitting!
- Be honest with your family. It’s hard if you have children to keep the festivities alive for them, so be honest and say things like “Christmas is such a fun time of year, but there are times it makes me sad because [name of your loved one] isn’t here with us.” Then suggest doing something nice together which reminds you of that person.
- Set boundaries for yourself. Sadly, sometimes we just have to put on a brave face and get through it for the sake of our loved ones still with us. To do this, I suggest setting boundaries for yourself so you know when you can excuse yourself.
- Try and be as honest as you can. When you do this, others will take your lead, and for anyone to come alongside someone grieving.
- Don’t be afraid to talk about the person they have lost. Sometimes, people don’t like to name them in case it’s upsetting but believe me, nothing is more upsetting than people acting as if the person you miss most never existed. So, include stories and memories of them in the conversations.
- Offer to do or give them something which keeps their memory alive. Perhaps, a Christmas tree decoration with their name or something resembling it. You can also make yourself useful by taking on some of your loved one’s responsibilities around the house.
- Give them space as well as time. For people who are grieving, both space and time are needed. Let’s support them during this season. Everyone grieves differently.
It’s hard to heal during this kind of situation but we are optimistic that we can overcome it. Try to keep the spirit of Christmas alive by remembering the true meaning of this lovely time of year.
Tina Mitchell Skinner has written this guest blog. Tina lost her husband Paul Mitchell to a brain tumour when he was 37 years old. This painful and lonely experience led to the founding of the pioneering charity Hammer Out, now Brain Tumour Support, providing specialist help for anyone affected by any type of brain tumour. 2023 marks its 20th anniversary year. You can get in touch with Tina if you would also like to be involved in an initiative like this.
Managers, if you or any of your team is experiencing loss or grief, especially during this season and you need help to open up those conversations, message or book a call here so we can support each other.